The painting with the skull is attributed to the Antwerp period of the artist's work, when he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, receiving a classical university education.
Skeletons and skulls - as the basis of anatomy - were mandatory in the academic drawing program. During the formation of the artist's creative style, he needed many hours of practice. Among the “anatomical” paintings by Van Gogh, one can also list such paintings as “The Skull with a Burning Cigarette”, which became a kind of “rebellion” against boring training with skulls.
As you know, for a long period of time, the main theme of the work of Dutch artists was the depiction of peasant life and life, a reverent attitude to human images that were also inculcated by Vincent van Gogh. The genre of portraiture, given to Van Gogh with difficulty, did not receive proper development precisely because of the anatomical practice in the art academy. Those paintings that the community of people of art appreciates very highly, the artist himself sharply criticized, shy of his own “inability”.
Wide and confident strokes form an excellent cranial volume in a Van Gogh painting, harmonious circular design of strokes with ocher colors, green and black create a special dynamics of a static depicted object, such brush magic is characteristic of the whole work of Vincent Van Gogh, and was noted already in his student years. Sharp lines marking the boundaries of the transition from one bone to another, bottomless, black fossae of the eye sockets - all this indicates that the artist liked to write living people to a much greater extent.
The "Toothed Skull" with its sharply defined sharp nose looks scary, as if the jaws were about to open and tell the viewer something malicious, amazing. This feeling is created due to the sharpness of forms and the play of color in contrast, created by the artist in the early stages of his training.
Bar In Foley Berger Edouard Manet